103 Squadron RAF



103 Squadron RAF 1918 cont'd

As the Army advanced eastwards the squadron moved at the end of October to Floringhem on 21st and then forward to occupy a captured airfield at Ronchin (Lille) on 25th. 

Ronchin Hospital used by 103 Sqn next to the airfield

The 30th October was a day of intense activity along the whole front. The RAF's biggest operation of the day was carried out by 80 Wing with a 62 aircraft raid in the afternoon on Rebaix airfield north of Ath. Nos 2 AFC, 54 and 103 Sqns carried out a bombing attack protected by Nos 4 AFC and 88 Sqns. A very low level attack was made by No 54 Sqn and 2 AFC, with 103 Sqn above at 2000 ft. Major Nethersole & 2nd Lt. Corey leading a formation of seven DH9s of 103 Sqn, dropped a 230lb bomb between hangars demolishing one of them and destroying two machines. Other buildings were also destroyed and the airfield generally shot up. No 103 Sqn dropped 4 230lb and 6 112lb bombs, the other squadrons dropping 116 25lb bombs. Other targets around the airfield were strafed. On the return journey the squadron had to fight all the way to the lines against some 30 Fokkers, claiming two destroyed and two OOC. Capt. Stubbs & Lt.  Bannerman claimed a Fokker destroyed and Lt. Hett & 2nd Lt. Nicholls claimed two, though the latter died of wounds after this action. Other claims were made that day by Lt. Hallawell & Sgt. Watkinson (1 EA DES) and Sgt. Haines & 2nd Lt. MacDonald. On a raid that morning to bomb Ath, Sgt.s Shepherd & Westcott claimed one destroyed and Sgt.s McNeill & Stevens claimed one OOC; Sgt. Silvester & 2nd Lt. Lansdale were brought down and taken prisoner; Sgt.s McNeill & Stevens were initially reported missing but later returned. [For a detailed description of the Squadron's activities on 30 October click here.]

In the following days two crews were taken prisoner: on 1 November 2nd Lt.s  Tennant & Drummond both wounded; on 4 November Lt. Carey & 2nd Lt. MacDonald, following a low level attack led by Lt. Chrispin on an airfield at Chapelle-a-Wattines. During this latter raid 1 230lb and 8 112lb bombs were dropped by five DH9's from 1500 ft leaving two hangars burning and three smoking. Three aircraft failed to reach the target because of engine trouble - two being forced to land.

Bombing Barry station (centre)

On 9 November 103 sqn together with No 54 sqn & 2 AFC raided aerodromes nr Enghien escorted by No 88 sqn & 4 AFC and again, on 10 November, raided Enghien station (the squadron was led by Maj. Nethersole on both raids). These are described in RAF Comms 32 below.

RAF Communiqué No 32

November 9th

A raid was carried out on Enghiem Station and on two aerodromes close by ... Three 230lb, 7 112lb bombs were dropped, and no less than twenty direct hits were observed upon trans in the station at Enghiem. One train was set on fire and was still burning when the raid left, sheds and buildings catching fire from it. A direct hit was also obtained with a 230lb bomb on a train in Bassily and also on one in which some troops were entraining. On one aerodrome a hangar was completely destroyed and a machine totally wrecked, while many other bombs burst among other machines on the aerodrome. On the other aerodrome a hangar and a machine were also set on fire and destroyed.

November 10th

Two successful raids were carried out on Enghiem Station. A total of 2 230lb, 11 112lb and 217 25lb bombs were dropped from a low altitude. Great havoc was caused in the station by the heavy bombs of 103 Sqn, some of which were dropped from as low as 500 feet. Three or four trains side by side appeared to be completely wrecked, and many large craters on the lines were seen after the raid. Almost every bomb burst in the station or on the track, and two trains were set on fire and destroyed.

Three hangars on the aerodrome south - west of Marcq were seen to have been burnt out by yesterday's raid.

The actions recorded above were among the last entries of the RAF Communiqués, the Armistice being declared effective from 11 o'clock the following morning and hostilities by the RAF ceasing with operations officially cancelled and flying beyond the balloon lines stopped from daylight.

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